Increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has caused the world’s ocean to become more acidic. Different marine habitats are known to have varying ranges of CO2 across multiple time scales. Coral reefs are known to have diurnal fluctuations, where the CO2 is high at night and low during the day. However, little is known about how these fluctuations differ across microhabitats within coral reefs. Further, though these fluctuations are naturally present they are often not included in predictions or future climate change conditions. Examining how more ecologically relevant future conditions affect coral reef fishes can provide more accurate information on how reef fishes will be affected in the future. In my PhD, I examined the current fluctuations of CO2 at different microhabitats within coral reefs. Further, I examined how incorporating ecologically relevant fluctuating treatments affects coral reef fishes and what mechanisms they use to maintain performance. I show that 1) current CO2 fluctuations differ more between reefs than between microhabitats within a reef; 2) some coral reef fishes can benefit in terms of swimming and energetics upon exposure to future fluctuating conditions; and 3) there is evidence for a mechanism fish use to maintain energy availability during exposure to elevated CO2.
Originally from California, Kelly fell in love with the ocean from an early age. The ability to participate in marine research during her undergraduate degree cemented her desire to pursue this in the future. Following graduation, she worked on various islands performing research or teaching marine biology courses. While working on a field station in the Bahamas she met her M.Sc. advisor, Dr. Cory Suski, who encouraged her to join his lab at the University of Illinois. There she completed her M.Sc. examining the physiological effects of carbon dioxide on mussels. Kelly then joined CoralCoE in January 2017 to commence her PhD with Dr. Jodie Rummer and Prof. Philip Munday. Here she continued her research on how elevated carbon dioxide, specifically ocean acidification affects organisms. She is investigating how the exercise physiology of coral reef fishes is affected by stable and fluctuating carbon dioxide.